England coach Eddie Jones has ensured the build-up for his side's semifinal against New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday will carry an extra edge following an extraordinary press conference today during which he suggested the All Blacks had spied on his side.

In an entertaining and often humorous exchange with journalists, both English and Kiwi, Jones also accused the New Zealand media of being "fans with keyboards", and asked them to answer some hard questions of the All Blacks and his rival Steve Hansen.

2019 Rugby World Cup: Eddie Jones, England head coach say England training was spied on, ahead of All Blacks semifinal. Video / AP

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His tongue appeared to be firmly lodged in his cheek, but, regardless, the performance of Australian Jones will create an expectation of a response from Hansen, who was relaxed today during his media session held at the same time and in a different part of Tokyo.

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Hansen refused to say whether he would indulge in mind games with Jones, a friend, but recent events may have forced his hand. Jones also claimed all the pressure was on the All Blacks and that it was easier to defend a World Cup than to claim it off the holders.

Eddie Jones, the England head coach, looks on during the England training session. Photo / Getty Images.
Eddie Jones, the England head coach, looks on during the England training session. Photo / Getty Images.

After saying that the England camp were aware their session was being filmed by someone in an apartment overlooking his side's training session, Jones linked the All Blacks with it and then backtracked slightly by saying there was no value in doing so. He also admitted to doing it himself in 2001.

"I've got no idea, mate," Jones said when asked who he thought was responsible. "Mitch [New Zealand assistant John Mitchell] could have been one of them. He's got about 15 different disguises. Look, everyone knows what everyone else does. There are no surprises in the game any more.

"There was definitely someone in the apartment block filming but it might have been a Japanese fan."

Asked whether he would do the same, Jones said: "Yeah we've got someone there now mate.

"I haven't done it since 2001. We used to do it.

"You just don't need to do it any more mate because you see everything. You can watch everyone's training on YouTube or whatever. There's no value in doing it, absolutely zero.

"We knew from the start mate. It doesn't change anything. We love it.

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Asked whether he needed to bulk up his security detail, Jones said: "We don't, mate. We only have Prince Harry's and we've got the ex-prime minister's; just two of them. Lovely chaps."

Eddie Jones, the England head coach looks on during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between England and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.
Eddie Jones, the England head coach looks on during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between England and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.

The mind games continued. Jones said the All Blacks were "consistently good" because they did the basics well. And that Hansen had run "good campaigns" before.

"We don't have any pressure, mate… no one thinks we can win. There's 120 million Japanese people out there whose second team are the All Blacks. There's no pressure on us. We just have to have a great week, relax and enjoy it.

"They're looking for their third World Cup so that brings pressure."

Jones claimed he knew England would play the All Blacks in the semifinal here. Wales play South Africa in the other.

"We trialed some things in November against them and now we've got a few things we want to do a little better in this game. And now we've got the opportunity to do it.

"I don't think they're vulnerable but the pressure is real. The busiest guy for them will be Gilbert Enoka, the mental skills coach. They've got to think about winning this three times. It's potentially the last game for their greatest ever coach [Steve Hansen], and for their greatest ever captain [Kieran Read]. They will be talking about it the whole week. It's always much harder to defend the World Cup and they'll be thinking about that.

He added: "Someone has to ask questions, mate because the New Zealand media doesn't. You guys are just fans with keyboards, so someone's got to ask them some questions about what's going on."

Asked what Hansen would make of it all, Jones replied: "He'll laugh, I'm sure he will."

The Herald has asked the All Blacks for comment but has not received a reply.


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